When we think of our dogs, we think of our bouncing, smiling, tail-wagging creatures that invade our bed, hoover our crumbs and give us unconditional love. But dogs are capable of a far greater range of emotions. What happens if your dog starts acting outside the realm of “happy-go-lucky?”  As the pet parent, we always want what’s best for our fur friends.  If you have noticed a change in your dog’s attitude and suspect depression, we have some helpful suggestions on how to navigate and help your pup.

What Are The Symptoms?

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It’s hard to know if dogs are depressed, as we can’t actually ask them the question. While dogs don’t necessarily suffer long term depression, they can experience symptoms of being down.  These symptoms are very similar to human depression: withdrawn, inactivity, eating and sleeping habits altered, excessive grooming and the basics of not enjoying or participating in things that previously made them happy. It’s important to pinpoint the reasons for these new behaviors. The best course of action if you are witnessing these symptoms is to first check with your veterinarian.  In some cases, if a dog refuses to eat or take a daily stroll, it could be linked to medical reasons.

What Are Possible Causes?

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This list could potentially be endless with things that are causing your dog.  However, the #1 cause of dog depression is the loss of their owner or another dog in the home.  Dogs are so in-tune with their human’s emotions, that they may be reacting to how you are feeling. When you experience grief, it is impossible to hide it.  Dogs may be interpreting your sadness and responding in kind.

You may have noticed, dogs like routine.  Feeding at 6am sharp, walk at 8 am, ball play at 3 pm, dinner at 5 pm, evening stroll at 7 pm. Sound familiar? Dramatic changes like a new house can cause your dog to feel anxious and suffer depression.  When a major change happens in their home, it can leave your dog to feel very uncertain.

Boredom may also cause depression.  If you have an active dog who loves to sniff every tree, bush and blade of grass on your street, go get the leash!  Dogs need stimulation and going into the great outdoors can help cure a case of the blues.

What Are the Treatments?

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First step is always speak with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be causing depression.  It is very important to pinpoint the onset of depression to your vet, so they can help you treat the depression.

Once your dog is pronounced with a clean bill of health, now comes your involvement. If you suffered the loss of a pet in your home, well, a trip to the animal shelter might be on the top of the list for you and your pup.  If you’re heart and home are not ready for a new addition, then you can easily try extra trips to the dog park, car rides with the windows rolled down and of course BACON (or any special treat that your pup loves).

Most importantly, for treating your dog’s depression is to make sure YOUR attitude is positive.  Wag your own tail and pretty soon your pup will be joining in on the dog party!  Turning that frown upside down could be as easy as extra pets and extra snuggle time.  They are certainly worth it!